Monday, March 17, 2008

All You Have to Do Is Throw Money, Throw Money.

The end times.

Bear Sterns finally decided to offer the hat to the highest bidder after homeowners called their bluff. As always, the CJR posted the best roundup of the fall of the suspenders-and-cigars firm's newspaper coverage:

As far as government bailouts go, this one could be worse. We’re glad to see the government did not bailout Bear Stearns shareholders, who are already issuing “howls of protests,” the WSJ reports. The paper quotes one employee (Bear Stearns’ employees own one-third of the firm’s shares) who doesn’t get it:
“I’ve got to think we can get more in a liquidation, I’m not selling my shares, this price is dramatically less than the book value Alan Schwartz told us the company is worth,” said a midlevel Bear Stearns executive. “The building is worth $8 a share.”
The building may be worth $8 a share but the rest of the company is worth negative dollars a share, dude.

Turns out they were to busy playing bridge while their firm went to the poor house. Which brings us to the levity of the situation, the red portion in the chart above shows the difference in Bear Stern's stock price from last friday to this morning, and really drives home how dire the situation is. Basically, Bear Sterns went looking for buyers, found one in the historically philanthropic J.P. Morgan and sold for mere pennies (or $2 a share). Its scarier than this everyday story, though, because the fed threw $30 Billion at the merger to leverage debt effectively in the process nationalizing the risk. J.P. Morgan will win big in this deal because the risk is placed on the taxpayers -- the Fed's loan will most likely never be paid -- and it gets at the least a very prime piece of commercial real estate. And as we dig deeper we see a Fed bailout broadcasting a message of laziness about inflation, a message arguing for a company asleep at the wheel, and one too big to fail. Worst of all, the already stretched taxpayer, facing increased threat of foreclosure, just saved the fuckers who financed their debt in the first place.

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